The NSW government will give Wollongong City Council more than $600,000 to spend on upgrades to the Mount Keira Summit Park.
The Mercury can reveal the council will be handed a $635,000 grant to help with the construction of a permanent kiosk/cafe and other visitor facilities at the park.
A portion of the money, which has been made available through the government’s tourism demand-driver infrastructure program, will also be put towards a feasibility study for mountain bike trails in the area.
Parliamentary secretary for the Illawarra, and Kiama MP, Gareth Ward described the funding as “the keys to the future of this park”.
“There has been so much talk around what can be done at Mount Keira,” Mr Ward told the Mercury.
“I’m absolutely delighted to have secured this money that will set up the future of Mount Keira Summit Park and make a real difference to what is a great tourist asset.”
Mr Ward secured the funding during recent discussions with the state’s new Tourism Minister, Adam Marshall.
The council would be responsible for how the money was spent at the park, including the amount to be allocated to the feasibility study.
“What was critical was securing this funding. Without this funding, this movement forward with Mount Keira wouldn’t have been possible,” Mr Ward said.
“I’m very supportive of mountain biking at Mount Keira [and] very supportive of the tourist facilities being there to encourage people to use the assets.”
Mr Ward said while mountain biking was already happening on the mountain, the feasibility study was required in order to “progress any formalisation of trails that are there”.
“There’s money here for real action, but there’s also money here for future planning,” he said.
Tourism body Destination Wollongong released a proposal for a “Mount Keira Adventure Playground” in 2014, saying the peak was under-used and could help to boost the region’s overnight visitors.
In May last year, the council revealed a vision for the summit park that included “key elements” such as better “interpretation”, parking improvements, toilets and picnic facilities and a better “sense of arrival”.
The document also indicated the park could serve as the start and finish point for road cycling and mountain biking in the escarpment – a key feature of the DW proposal.
A mountain biking economic benefit study commissioned by DW indicated there was a population of 4.8 million people living within two hours drive of Mount Keira and the mountain was capable of generating at least 102,000 annual visits to a bike park within that market.